Why total recall is bad for your health.

Memory, remember thyself!

Ever since my school days I’ve had a bad memory. What I can remember of them anyway. I had to work hard to remember stuff and write lots of it down in lists or mind-maps and even then my own prompts or efforts at mnemonics often puzzled me minutes after writing them down. While some lapped up history, jotting dates and events, I always preferred English and Art.

elephant-memoryIt always struck me as a gross injustice that I, or anyone for that matter, should be punished for forgetting something. If you forgot to turn up to a meeting then how could you have possibly been there? You forgot; that data was inaccessible at that time so how could you possibly remember? You can’t remember things to order.

Of course if you have a good memory then you can hold a lot of things in mind at once. Some students walk into a history examination with years of coursework all ready to fire up into instant access. For me spontaneous recall is a miracle and bulk ready access to knowledge is nigh impossible. If good mental order is Mondrian then I am Jackson Pollock.

It’s not possible to bear all things in mind all the time otherwise we’d be besieged in a cacophony of memory-bites; prone to overload, leading to the occasional pyrotechnic explosion of thoughts, experiences, memories and images; some good, some bad and most probably a fair portion illegal or at best inappropriate.  And all in explicit detail too.  One factoid too many would become Mr Creosote’s “wafer-thin” mint leading to a projectile disembowelment of history.

And you can’t forget things to order either. Has anyone ever actually WON “The Game”?

There are methods to improve memory so I’m told, ranging from tying your scarf to your handbag strap (there, that should do it) to leaving odd items in inappropriate places (*puts underpants on kettle*) but then you’re faced with the inevitable challenge of remembering why you… You get the picture.

So armed with lists and prompts and pursued by nags and nudges we memorially challenged souls travel on our way delighting in the novelty of things we should already know and blissfully unaware of places we should already be.

Now, what was I doing?


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